Hands up if you've used NO, DON'T, STOP on the reg 🙋🏼♀️
Yep we all do - it is a natural reaction us parents have to something our child is doing (that we would really rather they didn't!) It's even easier to fall into if we have grown up listening to it ourselves.
However, these words don't do a great job at shaping behaviour and they definitely don't help us keep things calm and under control.. ever seen your kiddo throw full blown tantrum after saying "no" to something? Of course you have, it's something we all experience some time or other in our parenting journey!
It's because words like these are "negative" based which means they can sometimes trigger (okay most of the time, BIG) behaviours!
However, kids grow immune to these words very quickly, it rolls in one ear and out the other! Especially when there has been no follow through (by which I mean constructive and effective consequence). The words mean nothing because they hear them ALL THE TIME.. they're as sick of hearing it as you are of saying it!
Using these words frequently also teaches our kids that they can use them with their friends, family AND their parents too. Hello power struggles!!
Modelling is a powerful parenting tool so we're going to tap into this in a POSITIVE WAY by....
Implementing some super practical parenting strategies!! Woooo! I live for this stuff! Yay!
Sooooo, here are some OTHER ways to say "no, don't stop", without actually using the words!
- Sorry buddy, that's not available right now
- Oh I can see you really want _____, let's get that out after lunch
- I can't let you hit your brother, we use kind and gentle hands
- You can watch some more TV tomorrow
- I am just doing the dishes at the moment, when I am finished I will come and find you
- Yes absolutely we can do that when your sister is down for a sleep
- Oh I can see you love sitting at dads desk, let's go set up a desk for you in the playroom
- Oops, I should have put this away, can you help me put it somewhere safe and we get your toys out
- Do you think that's a safe choice?
- That is such a cool toy, let's put it on your wish list for your birthday!
- I can't let you jump on the couch, show me how we sit on the couch instead
- Can you let me think about that and I will let you know soon
- I need to talk to _____ about it first, I will give them a call shortly
Depending on the age and stage of your child, it may be more appropriate to redirect, distract (hey look a flying pig!!), offer a choice or even plain ignore the misbehaviour (provided everyone is safe and nothing is on fire obviously!)
Save those NO, DON'T, STOP's for when you really need them to listen and act super fast, like when safety is a very real thaaang! They are far more likely to follow this instruction when it is used sparingly.
When you are saying NO (whether you use the word or one of the examples above) make sure you hold that boundary. Words need to mean something and if we continue to "give in" just to have peace we end up with bigger, longer and stronger protests, meltdowns and tantrums! Uh no thanks...
OH AND be sure that there really is a good reason to say no... wherever possible, and more often than not, try to say YES! When you catch yourself saying no a lot, ask yourself why! Are you feeling tired? Is it really logistically not possible right now? Is it the tidying up you just can't deal with today? Of course it's okay to not be down with every request under the sun - for ANY reason, but it's a great to pause first, consider it and then lock in your answer.. be aware it's not a default setting you're on!
Saying no all of the time can be really harmful. Kids need the opportunity to practice making choices (within the limits set by parents), explore different places and try new things (I know watching them climb up that really high thing over there gives you a mini heart attack, but we have to let them figure this stuff out within safe boundaries)
So go forth and use those alternatives! It is going to take MAD practice and EPIC mindfulness but guess what... WE'VE GOT THIS! PARENTING IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT.. WE ARE ALWAYS LEARNING TO DO BETTER!